Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta (ALMA)

In 2021, ALMA will be a little different…

The 2021 Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta program is seeking experienced artists, arts administrators, designers, urban planners, and local government officials to participate in a unique edition of ALMA aimed at developing creative, cross-sector proposals to community planning challenges.

This special cohort of leaders will come together to learn about the arts in planning and then collaborate as creative project teams to address community needs with an arts and culture focus. Sessions will help participants understand why and how artists and arts organizations can be an essential part of civic, planning, and development processes. We will also discuss best practices for arts and culture and creative placemaking for the Atlanta region.

The 2021 program will include four virtual class sessions capped by group presentations and a distinguished panel review. Further details will be available when the application opens.

Who should apply (when we start taking applications)?

  • Artists, arts administrators, and arts and culture professionals interested in advocacy, community engagement, and civic participation
  • Urban planners, urban designers, architects, developers, and landscape architects
  • Public officials with a desire to incorporate the arts into policy and programming
  • Philanthropic professionals responsible for funding in arts and culture, urban planning, place-based community development, and civic engagement

Application Timeline

  • Applications will open November 9
  • Application period closes December 18
  • Class will be announced January 21
  • Classes will take place online between March and May, 2021 (March 17, March 31, April 14, and May 12)

What about the typical ALMA program

  • We plan and hope to bring back the style of ALMA that has been running since 2004 in 2022. Keep wearing those masks!
  • That said, we improve and try different things in ALMA every year, and some of the changes for this year were ideas from the ARC’s Arts, Culture, and Creative Placemaking strategic plan. It seemed like a good year to try them out since we can’t meet in person.

Recent ALMA alumni include:

  • Waverly Lucas, Co-Founder/Director, Ballethnic Dance Company
  • Susan Mitchell, Executive Director, Dunwoody Nature Center
  • Karim Shariff, Board Chair, Dad’s Garage Theater Company
  • Doreen Williams, Commissioner, Rockdale County
  • Margarita Moldovan, Director of Education and Programs, Cubamerica Foundation
  • Vikki Morrow, Executive Director, National Black Arts Festival
  • Malika Whitley, CEO & Founder, ChopArt
  • Dominique Holloman, Chief of Staff, Office of State Representative William Boddie
  • Ivan Pulinkala, Dean of the College of Arts, Kennesaw State University
  • Marion Phillips, Economic Development Research Analyst, Georgia Power
  • Donna Jackson, Principal, Clayton County Public Schools
  • Sarah LaDart, Economic Development Manager, City of Milton
  • Emily Lightner, Executive Director, Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville

ALMA participants are selected by the ALMA steering committee, a group of Atlanta Regional Council (ARC) staff and selected ALMA alumni. The committee seeks to select a diverse group of individuals with respect to ethnicity, gender, age, geography, profession, community service, and demonstrated leadership.


  • Cost is to be determined, but it will likely be different than a typical year.
  • (In a typical, non-pandemic year cost has been: $700 for employees or owners of private sector businesses and employees of government agencies or schools; $350 for employees of nonprofits and working, self-employed artists. *A limited number of partial scholarships are available.)

2021 Class Schedule

  • TBD, starting in February or March 2021

ALMA Speakers

Past speakers include:

  • Joe Bankoff (Georgia Tech and Chair of the Fulton County Arts Council)
  • Karen Paty (Executive Director, Georgia Council for the Arts)
  • Shanequa Gay (artist)
  • Bem Joiner (President and CEO, Atlanta Influences Everything)
  • Amir Farokhi (City Council, City of Atlanta)
  • Doug Shipman (President and CEO, Woodruff Arts Center)
  • Carlton Mackey (Director, Ethics & the Arts, Emory University)
  • Josh Jackson (Editor-in-Chief, Paste Magazine)
  • Lain Shakespeare (Corporate Citizenship Director, MailChimp)
  • Anthony Rodriguez (Producing Artistic Director, Aurora Theatre)
  • Senator PK Martin (Georgia Senate)
  • Doug Hooker (Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission)
  • Julie Rhoad (President, The AIDS Quilt)


“I went to [an ARC workshop session on economic competitiveness] today and WOW.  It was great!  ALMA really helped me feel comfortable doing something like that and joining in the conversation.  I feel like what we learned and discussed in ALMA gave me the tools and ignited my passion to participate more in shaping our region.”

Gretchen E. Butler, Theatrical Outfit; 2017 ALMA graduate


Contact Josh Phillipson

Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta (ALMA) is a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission. ARC is the regional planning agency for the Atlanta region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties, as well as the City of Atlanta.

NOTICE: Gov. Brian Kemp has extended a public health emergency declaration and a statewide shelter-in-place order for older adults and medically fragile residents through June 12.

The Atlanta Regional Commission office at 229 Peachtree Street, NE Atlanta, is closed to the public until further notice. All employees are working remotely and conducting business operations. ARC employees can be contacted directly during normal business hours. However, if you need immediate assistance call 404-463-3100.

If you are seeking resources for older persons and individuals with disabilities, contact us at404-463-3333 or visit

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